GOLD STAR: Got to give it to Tuukka Rask, who made 31 saves overall and stopped 21-of-22 shots in the first couple of periods while the Bruins were getting their footing after the news that Patrice Bergeron wasn’t going to play. He stoned Patrick Marleau on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush in the first period, unlike the ones he scored on twice in Game 3, and made another save on a breakaway in the second period just before the Bruins were able to break the tie. There were plenty of moments early in the game when the Bruins were hemmed in or having difficulty generating any kind of offensive possession, and Rask was their best player through all of it. We’ve often said that Rask has to prove it in big games, and this may prove to the biggest game of the first-round series against the Maple Leafs. Rask was at the top of the list for getting it done for the Black and Gold tonight.
BLACK EYE: The Leafs actually played a pretty good game all things considered, but if you need to pin some blame on somebody, then give it to William Nylander. He played on a top line that got outplayed by Riley Nash, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak when it really mattered. Nylander only had one shot with most of his attempts coming from a good distance away from the net. He was a minus-2 and hasn’t really showed much of anything in the series to date. At least Auston Matthews was winning face-offs, generating offense and was a threat early in the game, but Nylander didn’t really do much to make himself noticeable in a gritty, hard-fought game that meant a ton to both teams. It’s indicative of a Leafs hockey club that probably needs to mature a little bit before they’re ready to truly make a deep run in the playoffs.
TURNING POINT: Clearly it was the Brad Marchand goal in the second period, but not because it was a really nice goal. It was because the Maple Leafs probably thought they had the Bruins right where they wanted them after a long shift with an icing and a defensive zone face-off, but instead, the B’s flipped the script on Toronto. They took advantage of a bunch of overeager kids on the ice, as Riley Nash won the draw and Adam McQuaid flipped the puck up the ice, turning it into a 2-on-1 with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak fed a no-look pass to Marchand for a shot at the vacated net, and the rest was history for the Black and Gold in a game they most definitely needed to win if they wanted to capture the series.
HONORABLE MENTION: Riley Nash didn’t end up on the score sheet, but give him all kinds of credit for stepping up and filling in at the last minute with Bergeron a last-minute scratch from the lineup. It was Nash that won the D-zone face-off after an icing call at the end of a long shift, and he worked the puck to Adam McQuaid for the stretch play that turned into the game-winning goal. In all, Nash played 19:10 of ice time, had a shot on net, a hit, a blocked shot and a giveaway while playing between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. He battled his way to 12-of-25 face-off wins. In actuality, Nash had half the wins in the face-off circle for the entire team and was exactly the kind of solid player Boston needed to step in and have a calming influence on that top line. They weren’t spectacular, but they made the plays when it mattered.
BY THE NUMBERS: 12-5-2 – the Bruins record this season when Patrice Bergeron is out of the lineup, which is a testament to their overall depth and how well Riley Nash has played in his place this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We tried to weather the storm and bring a storm of our own. We got the first goal tonight and that was a big thing. I think every team that’s scored first in the series has won.” –Jake DeBrusk, on the different ways the Bruins have combatted any home-ice advantage while they were in Toronto.